A Nonproliferation Disaster

Commentary by Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala and Daryl G. Kimball on the Draft Indian-IAEA Safeguards Agreement

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2008
Press Contacts: Wade Boese , (202) 463-8270 x104 and Peter Crail, (202) 463-8270 x102

(Washington, D.C.): Two leading nonproliferation experts stated today that governments committed to reducing global nuclear dangers have a responsibility to modify or block a proposed arrangement to facilitate increased global nuclear commerce with India, which has refused to forswear nuclear testing or halt its nuclear weapons production activities. Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN undersecretary general for disarmament affairs, and Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association, issued their call in a statement published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Dhanapala and Kimball stated, “Contrary to the claims of its advocates, the deal fails to bring India further into conformity with the nonproliferation behavior expected of the member states of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Unlike 178 other countries, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It continues to produce fissile material and expand its arsenal.”

They noted that “India is seeking an ‘India-specific’ safeguards agreement that could, depending on how it is interpreted, allow India to cease [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] scrutiny if fuel supplies are cut off even if that is because India renews nuclear testing. In the preamble of the proposed safeguards agreement, which was distributed yesterday, India states that it may take unspecified ‘corrective actions’ to ensure fuel supplies in the event that they are interrupted. IAEA board members should get clarification before taking a decision and reject any interpretation that is inconsistent with the principle of permanent safeguards over all nuclear materials and facilities.”

In addition, the two experts stated, “given that India maintains a nuclear weapons program outside of safeguards, facility-specific safeguards on a few additional ‘civilian’ reactors provide no serious nonproliferation benefits. States should insist that India conclude a meaningful additional protocol safeguards regime before the [Nuclear Suppliers Group] takes a decision on exempting India from its rules.”

They concluded, “the Indian nuclear deal would be a nonproliferation disaster, especially now. The NPT is in jeopardy and diplomatic efforts to address the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran are at a delicate stage. For those world leaders who are serious about ending the arms race, holding all states to their international commitments, and strengthening the NPT, it is time to stand up and be counted.”

The full commentary is available here. The draft Indian-IAEA safeguards agreement is available at http://www.armscontrol.org/pdf/20080709_India_safeguards.pdf .